Wednesday, February 15, 2012
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK, World Capitol Bureau
OKLAHOMA CITY - General revenue sales-tax collections for January hit an all-time monthly record, the Office of State Finance said Tuesday.
Sales tax collections generated $165 million in January, but the collection includes two weeks prior to Christmas, said Ron Jenkins, a spokesman for the office.
"This is the largest amount of money we have ever collected from sales taxes in any month of any year ever in Oklahoma," said State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger. "Consumer confidence appears to be high early in the second half of the 2012 fiscal year."
State sales tax collections for January were up almost 12 percent from the same month a year ago.
"It is great news that sales tax receipts reached an all-time high and our economy is continuing to grow," Gov. Mary Fallin said.
"I am encouraging legislators to see this as an opportunity, not go grow government or to spend more on government bureaucracy, but to pursue a bold plan to cut taxes and allow Oklahomans to keep more of their hard-earned money."
In January, general revenue fund collects brought in $524.9 million, a 7.1 increase.
Income taxes to the general revenue fund brought in $235.4 million, or 12.7 percent more than the previous year. Income tax collections include individual and corporate taxes.
Total gross production tax collections from natural gas and oil for the month were $53.2 million, or 6.6 percent less than collections of the previous year.
January tax collections for natural gas were $19.8 million, down 21.6 percent from a year earlier.
Gross production oil tax collections brought in $33.4 million, up 5.4 percent from previous-year collections.
Doerflinger said that while the state economy is coming back, he is concerned about natural gas prices.
"While we have had reports of companies reducing gas wells because of low prices, this is being offset to some degree by high oil prices," he said.
"In fact, the total rig count in the Oklahoma oil patch was much higher in January than the same month a year ago as producers employ enhanced drilling techniques to gather oil, liquefied gas and other profitable forms of energy."
Doerflinger said it would prudent for the Board of Equalization at its Feb. 21 meeting to reduce the initial projection for natural gas.
At the meeting, the Equalization Board will certify how much lawmakers will have to spend in crafting the fiscal year 2013 budget.
"The good news is I think that because of the overall strength in the Oklahoma economy, the Equalization Board will up the ante on revenues available for the Legislature to appropriate," Doerflinger said.